Electricity consumption down by 1.4% in 2018

Bern, 18.04.2019 - At 57.6 billion kilowatt hours (kWh), electricity consumption in Switzerland in 2018 was slightly lower than in 2017 (-1.4%). Domestic production (after deduction of electricity consumed by storage pumps) was 63.5 billion kWh. The physical electricity export surplus was 1.6 billion kWh.

Domestic consumption in 2018 lay at 61.9 billion kWh. After deduction of losses of 4.3 billion kWh occurring in transmission and distribution, electricity consumption amounted to 57.6 billion kWh, which is 1.4% or 836 million kWh (this corresponds approximately to the annual consumption of 167,200 households) less than in 2017 (58.5 billion kWh). The changes in consumption compared to 2017 were -0.1% in the first quarter, -1.4% in the second, -2.0% in the third, and -2.3% in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Although significant factors such as the development of the economy and population tended to increase consumption (see below), electricity consumption in Switzerland fell. This was due to the lower number of heating degree days and increases in energy efficiency:

  • Development of the economy: Switzerland's gross domestic product (GDP) rose by 2.5% in 2018 (source: State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, SECO).
  • Development of the population: According to the provisional statistics issued by the Swiss Federal Statistical Office (SFSO) on April 9, 2019, the population of Switzerland increased by 0.7% in 2018.
  • Weather: In 2018, the number of heating degree days fell by 10.6% (see table in appendix) in comparison to the previous year. As about 10% of the electricity consumed in Switzerland is used for heating, this development led to a steep decline in consumption.

The annual ex-post analyses of electricity consumption (to be published in October 2019) will provide further information about the main factors influencing electricity consumption.

Domestic electricity production in 2018

Electricity production (domestic) rose 9.9% to 67.5 billion kWh in 2018 (2017: 61.5 billion KWh). After deduction of 4.0 billion kWh used by storage pumps, net electricity generated amounted to 63.5 billion kWh. Domestic electricity production lay above the values for 2017 in all four quarters (+14.2%, +16.3%, +2.3%, +7.4%).

Hydropower plants (fluvial and storage power plants) generated 2.1% more electricity than in the previous year (fluvial power plants, +6.0%; storage power plants, -1.0%). In summer 2018, production at hydropower plants rose by 5.4% in comparison to 2017 (fluvial power plants +5.6%, storage power plants +5.2%); in both winter quarters production fell by 2.2% (fluvial power plants +6.9%, storage power plants -7.0%).

Electricity production at Swiss nuclear power plants rose by 25.2% to 24.4 billion kWh (2017: 19.5 billion kWh). This increase is mainly due to the resumption of operations at Beznau I power plant (entire year) and the higher availability of Leibstadt nuclear power plant. The availability rate of Switzerland's nuclear power plants in 2018 was 83.9% (2017: 67.1%).

Hydropower plants contributed 55.4% to overall electricity production (fluvial power plants 25.0%, storage power plants 30.4%) while nuclear power plants supplied 36.1% and conventional thermal plants and plants using renewable energy generated 8.5%.

Export surplus in 2018

With physical imports of 31.0 billion kWh and physical exports of 32.6 billion kWh, the balance for 2018 was an export surplus of 1.6 billion kWh (2017: import surplus of 5.6 billion kWh).  In the first and fourth quarters (winter quarters) Switzerland imported 5.1 billion kWh net (2017: 8.7 billion kWh); in the second and third quarters Switzerland exported 6.7 billion kWh net (2017: 3.1 billion kWh).

According to data from the Federal Customs Administration (FCA) yield from trade-based electricity exports was 2,067 million francs (6.13 cents/kWh). Expenditure of 1,790 million francs (5.52 cents/kWh) was incurred for trade-based electricity imports. This resulted in a positive foreign trade balance of 277 million Swiss francs in 2018 (2017: negative foreign trade balance of 217 million francs) [Source: FCA / swissimpex; as at April 1, 2019].

Address for enquiries

Marianne Zünd, Head of Media and Political Affairs SFOE, 058 462 56 75 / 079 763 86 11


Swiss Federal Office of Energy

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